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Develop breakthrough innovations.

There are many fantastic ideas. Genuine innovations are only those that are successful on the market. With the LEAD User Method every company can develop its next Signature Innovation. And evaluate, so that the flop risk is reduced.

Market-driven innovations of tomorrow

Are you still lacking ideas for the next innovation? Or have the right ideas been found a long time ago, but are being processed incorrectly? Are the wrong ideas already in the innovation development phase? Or are there too many ideas whose chances on the market have not yet been clarified?

We manage these tasks for you. By involving pioneer users of your products and innovation drivers from similar fields of work at an early stage, we determine the market requirements of tomorrow. We efficiently steer the development of your new product or process towards market-oriented innovation with breakthrough potential. By testing market acceptance, we reduce the flop risk.

The LEAD User Method quickly leads to Signature Innovations that reach the market because it brings the decisive customers of the target market into the team.

As an innovation partner, we support you with market research, moderation, idea generation, innovation evaluation and process control through all phases of the innovation development of a new product or the reorganization of processes.

The LEAD User Method.

The LEAD User Method was developed by Professor Eric von Hippel at MIT, the Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA, in the 1980s. It is based on the empirical realization that innovations are often not initiated by manufacturers, but that users are often the driving force behind developments. It turns out that these innovative activities are not distributed randomly, but are concentrated on a certain group of particularly progressive users, customers (LEAD Users).

The aim of this method, which follows the approach of Open Innovation, is to develop products, processes, services or business models that are particularly close to the market, customer-oriented and geared to the end user.

So-called LEAD Users are integrated into this development process as early as possible. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel needs before they will have the masses tomorrow. LEAD Users benefit particularly from innovation because they are dissatisfied with the existing products or processes on the market and they therefore profit greatly from a new product, a new development, an innovation.

The method ensures that the products and processes best meet the future needs of the users.

Change is not an innovation

Innovation is a term with a positive connotation and therefore nobody wants to be NOT innovative. However, many companies describe even the smallest change in their product or service as innovation. Completely regardless of whether this change also means an improvement for the customer or the company itself. And even if such an innovation improves something, it is exaggerated to speak of an innovation. Inventions must first prove themselves on the market if they are to be considered innovations.

3 Challenges when searching for LEAD Users

Precise search field & definition LEAD User profile

Already in phase 1 & 2 of the LEAD User Project the most important challenges lie in the LEAD User Search. With the right search field definition and fine-tuning, the basis of the project is laid. A search field defines the content area of the search for innovation ideas, based on the formulated project field. Here it is important to find a balance with regard to the breadth of content and the thematic focus of this field. If the search field is too large, i.e. formulated too roughly, it is possible that information and ideas remain arbitrary and are not specific enough to identify LEAD Users for a concrete application development in a subsequent step.

The definition of the desired LEAD User profile must also be taken into account in this phase. For the successful search for LEAD Users, selection criteria must be defined in advance so that the specific users can be filtered from the mass of users. These criteria include trend leadership and the need for a specific solution.

Working with the right analogies

In addition to the target market, analogous industries are particularly well suited to looking outside the box and providing valuable input from outside. For example, those fields of work and industries that have a higher degree of technological development than their own are best. The real challenge here, however, lies in Phase 2 (trend and needs analysis) in the specific determination of these analogue fields of application for one's own development project, one's own industry.

The right understanding of the term analogy is crucial. In practice, one has to deal with other economic sectors than one's own company, but in which the same technology is used as in the target field or in which similar problems and questions exist. LEAD Users can use their knowledge from these domains in an interactive value-added process and thus considerably expand the scope of possible ideas and solutions.

Recognition of need and solution information

It is, of course, indispensable to find and win a LEAD User in the complex research activity of the LEAD User Search. It is possible to recognise whether the person in question is a "progressive user" within the framework of a multi-stage telephone procedure, the LEAD User Interview. The potential LEAD User is contacted in advance, informed about the project, made curious and won for a second telephone call.

During this second call, the potential LEAD User is then asked about market trends and emerging customer needs. In addition, if he is a LEAD User, he reveals specific need and solution information and talks about the core functions or characteristics that a new product or service must have in order to meet the focused customer needs.

Who are LEAD User?

LEAD Users are people who intensively deal with a problem in an area of application for which there is no suitable solution on the market yet and for whom there is a need. These users feel a need much earlier than the general public or the average customer. From the customer of the main market the LEAD User distinguishes thus a felt need, for which the market has no or only an insufficient offer in the appropriate moment. The needs of LEAD Users represent potential needs of the rest of the market and therefore offer potential to increase innovation and innovation success.

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What characteristics distinguish LEAD Users?

If the LEAD User possesses solution information in addition to so-called need information, he or she often even develops his or her own prototypes or application-ready solutions.

As a large characteristic, this human species promises itself a great benefit if it is already possible for them to solve their problem today. The need for a solution for their problem or the dissatisfaction with the existing market offer as well as the individual knowledge and skills sometimes give these people the motivation to innovate - to tinker, to tinker.

Often, people with LEAD User characteristics exist, but they may not yet have become active in a specific application and do not know that their competencies make them LEAD users. If these persons can be identified by means of suitable methods and won for participation, then it is possible to innovatively solve a concrete development project of a company, a strategic search field.

In practice, this happens in the context of a 4-phase LEAD User project, where in the last phase the joint concept development between manufacturer and identified LEAD Users takes place in a workshop. Here, the creative potential of the participating LEAD Users is promoted through the use of group dynamic effects by breaking out of existing thought patterns by means of different creativity techniques and generating new solutions and concepts to the search field.

In 4 phases to breakthrough innovation.

The LEAD Users found with the method of the same name are not only direct users or users in the area of the manufacturer, but also come from other, so-called analogue industries. They have the same basic needs, but at a higher extreme or under conditions that made their solution appear more urgent in the past.

Stage 1: Formation of an internal project team

Interdisciplinarily staffed and aligned according to the promoter model of Professor Eberhart Witte in order to be able to assess trends and needs from various areas.

Step 2: Precision of the search field, definition of the LEAD user profile and definition of the analog ranges

The search field is exactly defined, previously compared with the relevant trends and customer needs in this area. To do this, you determine your relevant analog industries in which LEAD Users are to be identified.

Step 3: LEAD User Search

The LEAD Innovation Network will be searched for experts and potential LEAD users will be contacted by phone to discuss the search field, ideas and solutions. After a personal meeting in the personal environment of the LEAD User to review the ideas, the LEAD Users found will be presented at the end of this phase and finally those of them selected who will come to phase 4 - the LEAD User Conference.

Step 4: LEAD User Conference

The LEAD User Conference lasts two days and takes place in a conference hotel. Using different creativity techniques, at least 3 concepts - detailed specifications - will be developed for the selected topics.

Make an appointment for an informative conversation.

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LEAD User Methode

Case Study LEAD User Method

So-called LEAD Users are involved at the earliest possible stage in the development process of new products. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel the need before the masses will have it tomorrow.

read more

Case Study LEAD User Method

So-called LEAD Users are involved at the earliest possible stage in the development process of new products. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel the need before the masses will have it tomorrow.

read more

Case Study LEAD User Method

So-called LEAD Users are involved at the earliest possible stage in the development process of new products. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel the need before the masses will have it tomorrow.

read more

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Innovation Check

Would you like to know what stage of maturity your innovation management is at and analyze what the next steps could be?

Do the LEAD Innovation Check!

In the 30-minute innovation check, you evaluate 7 subject areas of your innovation management.

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